If you’re running a small business blog, you probably treasure comments from readers. Comments on your blog are like the Internet version of gold stars. They mean your blog is effective, engaging and able to generate interest and discussion. Comments say, “You’re doing a good job… keep it up!” But many bloggers are so hardwired to the positive aspects of comments—any comments—that they don’t see the need for a comment policy.
Why should you have a comment policy in place? Isn’t it “restricting” your readers from having the freedom to comment any way they want, or making them jump through more of the unnecessary hoops (like Captchas and banning anonymous comments) that discourage them from commenting in the first place?
Well, yes and no.
A blog comment policy may discourage some people from commenting. But the good news is, in most cases, these aren’t the people you want to comment on your posts anyway.
What a Comment Policy Can Do For Your Readers
Spam comments, irrelevant links, advertising and offensive comments aren’t just annoying for you. They can also be off-putting to readers. One of the main purposes of a blog is to foster a sense of community. And long comment trails full of spam, promo and rude statements are like walls full of graffiti, spoiling the neighborhood.
With a blog comment policy in place, your readers are assured that they can comment and discuss in a constructive, civil environment. This acts as encouragement for those with something valuable to say, rather than Web crawlers who are just looking for more places to link to their affiliate programs.
A comment policy also says something about your business. It lets readers know that a real person is monitoring your blog and comment sections. So if they ask a question or offer a compliment, they’re likely to receive a response.
What a Comment Policy Should NOT Do
While you can and should prohibit vulgar language, rude or antagonistic comments, personal attacks and derogatory remarks from your blog comments, you should not place a general ban on disagreements or contradictory views.
Blog owners who delete criticism and rational arguments from the comments section are typically viewed as thin-skinned at best, and may be perceived as unwilling to listen. News that you’re deleting negative comments is also likely to spread and harm your brand.
The idea behind a blog is to connect with and listen to your customers and visitors, even if you don’t necessarily like what they have to say. Negative comments also give you the opportunity to offer a solution and win back dissatisfied customers.
How to Write a Comment Policy for Your Small Business
Comment policies vary as widely as the blogs they appear on. They can range from simple statements to more complex lists of restrictions and consequences (such as deleting comments or, in extreme cases, banning users).
Your comment policy should take into account your target reader and what they’ll expect to see (and not see) on your small business blog, and the type of environment you want to create on your blog.
These examples can help you create a blog comment policy.
Short blog comment policy example:
Here at (Your Blog), we welcome your comments—supportive, critical or otherwise. We do not censor or delete comments unless they contain the following: Off-topic statements or links, abusive content, vulgarity, personal attacks or spam. Those who violate this policy will be blocked from commenting.
Long blog comment policy example:
We welcome and encourage comments on (Your Blog). However, in some instances comments are subject to be edited or deleted. This includes:
- Comments that are determined to be spam or questionable spam.
- Links within comments that lead to irrelevant content or affiliate websites. Links that are relevant to the post will be permitted.
- Comments using profanity or vulgar language.
- Comments including derogatory language, or language/concepts that could be deemed offensive.
- Statements that attack another person individually.
Please follow our comment policy rules, and help us to keep this blog a safe and constructive place for discussion. We reserve the right to edit or delete comments submitted to this blog at any time without notice. This comment policy is subject to change at any time.
A comment policy can increase your blog readership and encourage more people to join in the discussion. Do you have a comment policy in place?
comment Concept Photo via ShutterstockMore in: Blogging